Chamber Honours Business Excellence

Article reprinted with permission from Metroland Media,

By Brian Shypula


Photo by Brian Shypula, Brant News
Winners at the Chamber of Commerce Brantford Brant’s 32nd annual business excellence awards gala held Thursday are, from left, Scott Lyons, president of Extend Communications that was named Company of the Year, Bernie and Keri Korfmann of Korfco Investments/Tim Hortons, which received the Bell Community Builder Award, Bob Caissie, recipient of the David Baxter Memorial Award for Individual Outstanding Achievement, and Dr. Alfred Hauk of Holistic Healing Arts Centre, the Entrepreneur of the Year.

A snowmobiling and motorcycle-riding businessman was described as a “guardian angel” for his support of Lansdowne Children’s Centre.

Bob Caissie of Culligan Water was presented with the David Baxter Memorial Award for Individual Outstanding Achievement at the Chamber of Commerce Brantford Brant’s 32nd annual business excellence awards gala held at the Best Western Brant Park Inn on Thursday night. The award is presented to someone who has made the community a better place to work, live, play and conduct business.

Caissie is founder and chair of two major fundraising events for Lansdowne. The Great Northern Ride snowmobile ride has raised over $1.5 million since 2001 and the Charity Motorcycle Ride, since its inception in 2005, has generated in excess of $400,000 to support programs for children with special needs to participate in local recreation programs. Next week, the 12th annual ride will add to that total on May 14.

In the words of Lansdowne leaders: “Without our guardian angel we would never be able to offer these children the equal opportunity they so deserve to fully participate in community recreation and most importantly, allow these wonderful and inspiring children to just be kids,” said award presenter Paul Williamson.

Two close calls with his own infant children, which luckily had happy endings, started Caissie on a path of philanthropy and giving back.

He also volunteers with the Rotary Charity Air Show and Great Community Treasure Hunt, helped raise $30,000 for Brantford General Hospital’s new birthing centre and purchased a pad at the Children’s Safety Village.

“Please remember those less fortunate than we are and keeping rocking,” Caissie said in his acceptance speech.

But he used most of his time at the microphone to urge the audience to support the people of wildfire-ravaged Fort McMurray. Caissie owns the Culligan franchise in the Alberta town where 1,600 homes and other buildings have burned to the ground.

Culligan was sending a tractor-trailer full of ice and water to Fort McMurray and another 20,000 bottles of water to give to people stranded on a highway.

Brantford city councillors will vote on Tuesday on a donation of $25,000 to Fort McMurray. Caissie publicly thanked Mayor Chris Friel at the gala.

The chamber presented three other awards at the event.

The Bell Community Builder Award went to Korfco Investments/Tim Hortons, which provides camping experiences for more than 30 local children each summer and through the Smile Cookie has donated more than $450,000 to the Brant Community Healthcare System to buy equipment for cancer and pediatric clinics.

Owners Bernie and Keri Korfmann accepted the award together.

“It’s the team members at the stores that are the real heroes,” Keri said.

“We’re just fortunate that we’re in a position where we can give back,” Bernie added.

Also nominated in the category were Cowan Insurance Group and Stepright Capital Planning.

The Entrepreneur of the Year award went to Dr. Alfred Hauk of Holistic Healing Arts Centre.

“It’s just a terrific team effort,” said Hauk, who started the business in a basement 23 years ago and has seen it grow to a modern facility on King George Road. Some staff have been with the business for 15 years.

Also nominated were Chris Devlin of Devlin’s Country Bistro & Catering and Thomas Douglas of Brant Custom Machining Ltd.

Company of the Year went to Extend Communications.

“Our people are what make our company great,” said an emotional Scott Lyons, president of the 60-year-company founded by his grandfather.

The other nominees were David W. Wilson Manufacturing Ltd. and Rawlings Sporting Goods Co. Inc.
This year marks the 150th anniversary of the local chamber of commerce.

Allan O’Dette, president and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, congratulated the chamber on the milestone.

The sold-out gala raised $3,520 for the Brant Community Healthcare System Foundation.